Relationship marketing: how to connect with your customers (without being creepy)

If a stranger came up and asked to borrow your phone, how would you react? You might give them a once over and think for a sec. Or maybe you’d just ignore them and keep walking.

But if a friend or family member asked you the same question, you wouldn’t give it a second thought. You have a relationship with that person, so you trust them.

Brands are no different: make an effort to get to know someone and build a relationship, and you’re on your way to a loyal customer.

In this article, we’ll explain relationship marketing and cover:

  • Tips on creating a relationship marketing strategy
  • Examples of great relationship marketing
  • How relationship marketing can help a company reach its goals

What is relationship marketing?

It’s part of the longer customer journey, which includes nurturing brand advocates who encourage their friends and families to buy from your company as well. This is crucial, as more than half of people seek advice from friends and family about brands on social media.

Unlike traditional forms of marketing that mainly focus on immediate sales, the main aim of relationship marketing is ongoing customer satisfaction.

→ Want to use events for relationship marketing? Check out our tips on event marketing.

The results of relationships

Using relationship marketing can help increase a customer’s average order value (AOV) as well as lifetime value (LTV). And these aren’t small gains. Businesses with 40% repeat customers generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only 10% repeat customers.

And ‘fully connected’ customers with an established relationship with a brand are 52% more valuable than mere ‘highly satisfied’ customers.

If you want loyal followers, you’ve got to build relationships—because it’s much, much cheaper to invest in existing customers than to chase new ones.

Tips on creating a relationship marketing strategy

More than three quarters of consumers expect brands to understand and care about them before they consider purchasing. And 89% of consumers are measuring your brand against big hitters like Amazon, Netflix, and Starbucks.

That means you need a robust relationship marketing strategy if you want to keep customers coming back for more.

Personalize the customer experience

To build a relationship, you need to get personal. That means learning all you can about your customers without going to their house and peering in their windows.

Find out what products they buy, where they learn about brands, what TV shows they like—any relevant habits you can think of. Then take this knowledge and use it to create a tailored customer experience and communications plan.

Not sure where to start? Try asking your customers what they like and don’t like through social media or a market research survey like this:

→ Getting better answers also starts with more personal experiences. Here how to get started with Typeform.

Maybe they think your website’s great, but your checkout process sucks. Or they love your product, but don’t care for all those emails you’re sending—when they were so close to reaching inbox zero.

Once you’ve used their feedback to improve your customer experience, let them know you did. They’ll love your brand even more.

Here’s a few ideas for parts of the customer experience you can personalize.

Messages. Personalized emails have a 6.2% higher open rate—and by personalized, we mean more than just saying “Dear Karen.” More than 79% of U.S. consumers and 70% of UK consumers expect personalized experiences from the brands they shop with.

Send times. Ecommerce t-shirt retailer BustedTees started by sending emails tailored to its customers’ time zones. When that was successful, they used data on past open times to send emails at a time personalized to each individual subscriber. Result? An 8.2% boost in email revenue.

Websites. DoggyLoot—a dog products retailer, in case you hadn’t guessed—personalize their website based on the size of their customers’ dogs. Another example of a company that knows how to provide a personalized marketing experience.

Create a kick ass loyalty program

If you want to build relationships to focus on customer retention, give customers a reason to come back by creating a loyalty program. But make sure it’s one that matters. Don’t give them one point for every dollar they spend, then reward them with a free pen at 5,000 points.

Offer special incentives so that customers feel valued. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Members only sale
  • Exclusive discount code
  • Access to gated content
  • VIP invite to your event

They won’t just appreciate it—they’ll remember it.

Neiman Marcus strikes gold when it comes to its loyalty program. It’s clear that the more you shop, the bigger the benefits. And there’s a lot of them. They also fork out a truck load of points just for signing up.

Leverage content marketing

Content marketing is about offering real value. Isn’t that why we stay in any relationship?

Produce content that’s well-written, does what it says on the tin, and solves an important business problem. People will come back for more.

That’s what we aim to do here at Typeform. Our blog articles are there to inform you about important industry issues, entertain, provide actionable tips, and help you understand our brand.

Take this article on closing the gender gap in tech. It’s not directly related to Typeform, but it talks about an important issue that people are passionate about. It also presents a case study involving Typeform about what’s being done to solve the problem.

A damn good article, if you ask me.

Of course, the aim is that eventually they will buy something from you—you’re running a business after all—but in the meantime, you’re serving them up useful content to keep your company’s name top of mind.

Contently is another content marketing favorite. They freshen things up with an “agony aunt” style column, which gives informative and entertaining answers to questions readers send in:

How would you answer that question?

And the newshound in me was howling when Contently started The Contently Foundation—a non-profit investigative journalism arm. It’s been so successful that it’s grown into a separate entity called The Hatch Institute.

The end—although relationship marketing never ends

Relationship marketing is a long-term, never-ending job that may not yield immediate results.

But with the right mix of personalization, loyalty programs, content marketing, and social media, you’ll be on first-name terms with your most loyal customers in no time.

And they won’t forget yours either.

→ Strong emotions are at the heart of any good relationship. Learn how to compliment your relationship marketing with emotional marketing.